I’m harvesting these days. No, it’s not a garden. It’s a set of flowers. A few years ago, our dear friends gave us a few plants that we had seen in their yard. Known as “Cock’s Comb,” they are a brilliant plant that is one of the hardiest things I have ever had. Named for the red “comb” on the top of a rooster’s head, these plants spread easily through the seeds they produce prolifically. When you look at one in bloom, beneath the bright color is a wall of soft tissue, LOADED with tiny, black seeds.
The seeds are only released as the plant begins to die. I have watched this process for three years now. I must patiently wait until it reaches a certain stage of death before the seeds are released, preparing for the next year’s crop. The only way for NEW life to come is for the OLD life to die.
Jesus talked about His death in a similar way, but it never made sense to me until this year. He offered a NEW BIRTH to all who would put their trust in Him. But he also told the disciples that it was necessary for Him to die. They didn’t get it. His sinless life would be a sacrifice that would usher in a new covenant, a new way, a new life. Unless He faced down death with His sacrifice, we would never experience the New Birth. And I find that to be true for all of us who follow Jesus. The old way of living dies, and we embrace the new life that Jesus births in us. So, in the last week (what we call Holy Week), he said something that the disciples didn’t understand.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”John 12:24-26
The old life doesn’t match the new life Jesus offers. The old must go.
Those brilliant red plants are beginning to fall, shrivel, and fail. I have enjoyed them all summer long. But autumn is coming, and the fading flowers have become a great reminder that the fading I see now is the promise of the beauty we will enjoy in the new season next year. In the same way, as I watch people exercise repentance of the old life that has gripped them, I am excited as I anticipate what Jesus will do in them through the days ahead!